The Mediterranean basin is considered a “hot spot” of climate change. It displays an ongoing tendency towards drier conditions and this trend is expected to continue and possibly worsen in the coming decades. At the same time, individual events of extreme rainfall continue to cause human losses and severe economic damage.
This research task will be devoted to:
The analysis of current data on the hydrological cycle in the Mediterranean basin. This includes participation in ongoing programmes such as Hymex (www.hymex.org).
The use and development of regional climate models specifically tuned for the Mediterranean area.
Obtaining reliable information on water availability and distribution in the next decades.
Developing appropriate adaptation measures.
The methods used are coupled systems that have recently been developed for the Mediterranean region: the atmospheric model is forced at the surface by a high resolution interactive ocean model whose sea surface temperature (SST) in turn responds to small scale circulation patterns produced by the regional atmospheric model. A key improvement of this modelling tool is its ability to produce more reliable local SST and wind speed estimates which result in a more realistic description of water, heat and momentum fluxes and feedbacks between the atmosphere and the interactive ocean model. Such a description might be critical when performing future climate projections of the hydrological cycle, especially when strong air-sea interactions are expected.
Several modelling groups have taken part in the MedCORDEX (www.medcordex.eu) international effort in order to better simulate the Mediterranean hydrological cycle, to improve the modelling tools and to produce new climate scenarios.
Attention will also be paid to the reconstruction of the Mediterranean hydrological cycle in the last centuries through the analysis of paleo-data and modelling efforts. Hydrological model schemes must be improved to meet the specific requirements of semi-arid climates, accounting for the related seasonal soil water dynamics and the complex surface-subsurface interactions in such regions.